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The Impact of the Human Stress Response: The Biologic Origins of Human Stress

Mary Wingo earned a Ph.D. in human stress research from the University of North Texas. Her book The Impact of the Human Stress Response is intended to educate the public about the true costs of preventable human stress. Mary Wingo examines one of science’s burning issues – the epidemic of stress-related diseases, disability, and early death currently ravaging the Western world. Preventable stress is devastating our health and destabilizing our communities. In her book, she shares insights into the way we cope with everything from excessive multitasking to social unrest.

“Despite the crippling consequences of excessive exposure to stress, we do have many tools available to lessen these costs. These steps do not require money or expensive medical care, and can be used by anybody undergoing stress. Following these simple steps can result in a much higher quality of life and less resources wasted from dealing with needless stress. Millions of lives and trillions of dollars can be saved every year if we can address human stress on a global basis.”

“Stress is not only due to the threat or fear. Stress results because we attempt to adapt to our environment. Disease occurs when this mechanism is overused or malfunctioning.”

“Inflammation is a common reaction to stress. It helps insulate the effects of a stressor from the rest of the body. If inflammation goes on for too long, cellular nutrient delivery and waste removal become difficult. This is one way disease forms.”

“Like any process in our body, our two bodily states can become disturbed by disease of their delivery systems. For example, the adrenal gland is a major organ regulating the stress response. If this gland becomes inflamed and fails to secrete sufficient cortisol and adrenaline (both major stress hormones), the stress response will not be effective. This puts the organism’s survival at risk.”

“… perhaps the most potent chemical stressor is actually the food we eat, both in terms of quantity and quality. Our bodies are effectively food processing machines, and they have a limited capacity. If we consume more calories than we can process, our digestive and metabolic mechanisms become stressed. Stressing a system chronically, as we have already seen, results in disease.”

“Similar considerations apply to the drugs we take, and the chemicals we use for cosmetic or hygiene purposes. Their use may provide short-term benefits, but as with processed food, our metabolic machinery has not evolved to deal with these non-native substances. As many of them have been developed in just the last two or three generations, we simply don’t yet know what the implications of long term exposure will be.”